The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Five Ways Families Can Save Money

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five Ways Families Can Save Money

If you're like me when my kids were little, you have more month left at the end of the paycheck than money left at the end of the month.  We frequented discount stores and seldom ate out.  Today I browsed the Internet as if I were thirty again (ahhhh!) with an eye to how I might save money with children in the house.  Here's what I found...
  1. My kids would have wanted a cell phone as soon as they entered middle school if that technology had been available.  So, if I were to get a phone for my daughter, this is what I would get: Wal-Mart sells a Straight Talk Plan. You must initially purchase a cell phone first. Their LG 220C has an alarm clock, texting features, a calculator and a color screen for $45. It does not have a camera, which might be a good thing with teens. Straight Talk offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited mobile web access, all for $45 a month without a contract.  This gets my vote for the best phone for teens and tweens.
  2. Years ago, I kept a Christmas club, which gave me money to spend for gifts.  I budgeted the amount of money for each child and other family members.  Now, you can get a credit card that will deposit 2% of your purchases into any account you choose.  What a win-win situation!  The Fidelity Rewards American Express card will put that into a savings account, a 529-plan for your child's college education, or an IRA account for your retirement.  But you can pick only one ;-)  That's fair, right?  I think I'd pick the savings account so I could use it for Christmas or whenever and hope that my kids got college scholarships.  (ha!)
  3. Grocery bills were HUGE with three kids and all their friends stopping in all the time.  Certainly couponing helps, even if you don't go to extremes.  Look for sales and buy in bulk.  These are all common tricks of the parenting trade to save money on groceries.  However, the biggest way you can save money is to make a meal plan and stick with the program.  When you go to the store, only buy what's on the list.  Here's one woman's story of how she fed her family for $100 a week: http://www.parents.com/family-life/money/family-finances/save-money-on-groceries/
  4. We loved family vacations.  It was a time to get away without miscellaneous distractions and concentrate on enjoying family life.  However, on a limited budget, we couldn't rent a hotel room for a week a Disney World every year.  In fact, we couldn't rent a motel anywhere for a week because the cost of eating out was prohibitive.  So, we rented.  We looked for little cabins in the woods on a stream or lake where we could enjoy what nature offered us.  Look at it this way: Depending on where you go, you can rent a house for your family from $500 to $1000 for the week.  Bring your own canned and boxed goods and buy fresh products when you get there.  you still have to eat, so that doesn't enter into the cost of the vacation.  Mother Nature offers free recreation when you hike the trails and discover hidden waterfalls.  We have two favorite locations: The State Park system in West Virginia and a private cabin we rented in Maine.  Neither had TV!
  5. The biggest bill I had for school clothes was not the clothing because we generally shopped at discount places and used hand-me-downs.  The biggest bill was for footwear.  I refused to skimp on their feet!  So, instead of going to Guy's Discount Shoe Store, we would go to the regular shoe places like Sports Authority, etc. but only when there was a sale or a coupon that drastically discounted the products. I have a friend who buys shoes one size larger the previous season when they are discounted heavily.  I think that's a bit overboard, but to save money, it's definitely a plan worth considering.
Happy Parenting!

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